always with honor interview – tyler and elsa lang



designboom spoke to elsa and tyler lang of the illustration-duo always with honor.



DB: please could you tell us briefly about how you came to form always with honor?
AWH: we met through mutual friends at ringling college of art and design in sarasota, FL. where we both majored in graphic design. after graduation we moved to brooklyn where we both worked for some great studios, elsa: number 17, fangohr, tyler: good magazine, seed magazine. outside of our jobs we would tinker on our personal projects – those kind of ideas that only pop into your head from long subway rides to and from the city. we posted a number of them on a blog we called ‘always with honor’. as a result we began to receive freelance gigs and realized we could make it on our own. after a few more years in NYC, the west called us and we migrated to portland, or to start AWH full time. we’ve been out here working under that moniker for the past four years and couldn’t be more thrilled with the way things have fallen into place.




always with honor interview
stickers for path app



DB: how has your work evolved over the years?
AWH: whether it’s a logo, an infographic, a poster, or an icon set the DNA of our work has always been a whimsical take on the subject matter executed as simply and boldly as possible. using simple shapes and rich color as a vehicle for the work seemed like a natural fit. with these ideals and principles as a base we’d love to expand our work to more than just flat illustration graphics. exploring new avenues, toys, video games, museum exhibits, food trucks, bird houses, dog clothing?



always with honor interview
CCU cider packaging



DB: what has been your most challenging brief to date?
AWH: for the first couple years we worked mostly on editorial work, spot illustrations with tight deadlines and a shelf life of a couple months at most. we were approached by boke bowl, a local pop-up ramen shop looking for an identity for their brand and soon to be brick & mortar restaurant. we would be starting from scratch, working on many things we had never considered before this. how best to design a menu board around their season-shifting menu? in what order should the hot sauces be arranged on the table? is there room to have fun when ordering food? we love cooking and food culture, it really was a labor of love, and stress, lots of stress. in the end we witnessed a restaurant born and realized all the passion and minds needed to come together to create a fully realized idea from the ground up.



always with honor interview
icons for the new york times opinionator blog



DB: what medium or material do you enjoy working with the most?
AWH: we’ve recently been experimenting quite a bit with clay which has been super fun. it’s a completely alien way of thinking when you spend your day basically only working in two dimensions. it might not always come out looking as honed in or as tooled as we would like, but that’s a huge part of what makes it so enjoyable. it’s also given us a new found admiration for folks working in the 3D realm, an illustration only needs to look good from one angle.



always with honor interview
black rhinos poster



DB: who or what has influenced your work the most?
tyler: in college I remember looking through lance wyman’s work. as someone who dreamed of one day designing heavy metal album covers I never thought I’d be taken aback by a wayfinding system. so simple and bold, yet it all had so much soul – the golden balance we shoot for. he’s been killing it since the 60’s and continues to be a huge inspiration.


elsa: I was a book nerd when I was little and spent hours looking at the illustrations, so I’ve always been inspired by folks like leo lionni, beatrix potter and shell silverstein especially now that our work has shifted closer to illustration.



always with honor interview
triforce tribute



DB: how do you think the popularity of online design resources have influenced the design being produced today?
AWH: like most things in life, the internet is a double-edged sword. we have access to so much incredible information and inspiration it can be paralyzing. it’s all about harnessing that energy and taking advantage of the buckets of insight at our fingertips.



always with honor interview
nike – all star posters




always with honor interview
nike – animal badges



always with honor interview
nike – animal badges



DB: besides your professional work – what do you have a passion for?
tyler: I began playing guitar in the seventh grade, was in multiple bands in high school, none of them any good but that didn’t really matter. when you work at home, it’s so hard for professional work to not seep into every single aspect of your life. my music is something that my professional work plays absolutely no part in and I love it for that. also, anytime I feel a bit burnt out I like to take myself on wikipedia animal safaris. still amazed that at 29 there are still animals I had no idea existed, nature is so damn amazing.


elsa: we both love traveling and being outdoors, so we try to escape the studio and explore the northwest as much as we can. I enjoy working on projects involving sewing/embroidery, cooking and pottery to keep things in perspective when life gets a bit too digital.



always with honor interview
boke bowl signage




always with honor interview
boke bowl website



DB: what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
AWH: to follow our instincts and listen to our gut feelings, they haven’t steered us wrong yet.


DB: what is the worst piece of advice you have ever been given?
AWH: we were told never to eat NYC street meat – good thing we ignored that advice!